Data show U.K. pig farmers cut antibiotic use in half

In two years, hog farmers in United Kingdom reduced antibiotic use by more than 50%

May 18, 2018

2 Min Read
Data show U.K. pig farmers cut antibiotic use in half
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Pig farmers in the United Kingdom reduce antibiotic use by 28% last year, bringing the total reduction in two years to more than 50%.

President of the Pig Veterinary Society Duncan Berkshire says, “PVS is pleased to see the recent results from the ongoing commitment to reduce the total use of antibiotics within the pig sector and would like to congratulate our members and pig producers on a reduction of over 50% in the last two years.

“These first steps have shown good progress towards the targets that have been set and we look forward to working with producers and the allied industries over the coming years.”

According to the latest data taken from the electronic medicine book, which represents 87% of pigs slaughtered in the UK, antibiotic usage on pig farms dropped from 183 mg/PCU to 131 mg/PCU within 12 months.

PCU refers to the “Population Correction Unit” and takes into account the animal population as well as the estimated weight of each particular animal at the time of treatment with antibiotics.

The 2017 reduction means the pig industry has more than halved its antibiotic usage within the last two years — with the latest figure building on a 34% cut in usage between 2015 and 2016.

Seven months ago, the Targets Task Force, set up by Responsible Use of Medicine in Agriculture Alliance, announced to goal to reduce antibiotic usage in the pig industry by over 60% between 2015 and 2020.

AHDB’s Senior Veterinary Manager Mandy Nevel says, “This is a great industry effort with all parties fully engaged and determined to demonstrate responsible use of antibiotics in pigs. We must keep up the momentum to reduce use further in order to achieve our target of 99 mg/PCU by 2020.”

Electronic medicine book
Developed by AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the electronic medicine book is available to all UK producers and is supported by the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh levy bodies. It provides an electronic version of the paper medicines book to record and quantify usage so producers can review and optimize their on-farm antibiotic use. Since October last year, it became a Red Tractor requirement that quarterly antibiotic data are entered into eMB. Red Tractor is the largest food assurance scheme in the United Kingdom. It claims to ensure the food is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly. Red Tractor standards cover animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection.

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